Ohio Gambling Addiction Hotline Getting Called for Wrong Reasons

Posted on: July 23, 2013, 05:30h. 

Last updated on: July 22, 2013, 05:34h.

When the state of Ohio set up a problem gambling hotline, it was intended to help individuals who recognized they (or someone they knew) might have an issue with compulsive gambling. Unfortunately for the state, it seems as though a lot of callers have had another use for the hotline when they call in.

More Than Half Not Problem Gambling Calls

According to information from the hotline, a total of 5,645 calls were taken over the past fiscal year. However, 54 percent of these calls were deemed “not applicable,” with most of them being inquiries for information about gambling in the state: whoops. That included questions about horse racing, casinos, or the latest winning lotto numbers – none of which are considered proper uses of the hotline. Ya think?

“We want it to be the best value…for the taxpayer,” Stacey Frohnapfel-Hasson, who serves as the chief of problem-gambling services for the Ohio Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services, told The Cleveland Plain Dealer. “That’s not ‘what’s on the buffet?’”

According to most estimates, less than 3 percent of adults in Ohio are considered to be problem gamblers or at risk for becoming so. Still, the gambling hotline was set up, and the number was displayed across most gambling devices in the state, including lottery tickets and slot machines. It is also prominently featured in media ads for gambling services.

More Casinos, More Gambling Addicts

The real concern, the state says, is a potential increase in problem gambling due to the new casinos that opened in Ohio at the end of last year. That, along with concern over statistics that show that few problem gamblers seek out self-help services, led the state to aggressively promote their hotline. While that may have led to a large number of mistaken calls, it may also have gotten thousands of Ohio residents the help they otherwise wouldn’t have sought out.

“We have a clear picture of where we started in Ohio,” said Casino Control Commission chairwoman JoAnn Davidson. “As these casinos come online, then we’re going to have something to measure it against.”